UK government comes clean about Syrian Christian refugees
Christian refugees are ‘reluctant’ to enter the UN refugee camps in the Middle East, according to the UK Home Office in a belated attempt to explain why Britain has admitted so few Christians refugees from the Middle East crisis.
The Home Office however still does not state that this because of persecution, according to the UK-based persecution agency, Barnabas Fund.
In response to a Freedom of Information request sent by a Barnabas Fund supporter, the Home Office admitted, “Minority groups may be more reluctant to go to camps. Many Christians live outside the camps and rely on churches and Christian support groups. We are working with UNHCR and their partners to intensify their outreach to groups that might otherwise be reluctant to register.”
However, the Home Office did not acknowledge that Christian refugees’ “reluctance” stems from the fact that Christians in camps have faced persecution. They also insisted that the UNHCR is “best placed to identify and refer the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement”, despite acknowledging that many Christians are not part of the refugee camp system and therefore will be dramatically underrepresented in referrals.
The Home Office stated, “we work closely with the UNHCR to prioritise the most vulnerable refugees … We do not discriminate in favour of, or against a particular group.” There is seemingly no acceptance of the specific vulnerability of Christians in the Middle East, who have been the targets of a genocidal campaign waged by Islamic State.
The very mechanisms employed by the UNHCR in their referral process mean that Christians, who comprised around 10 per cent of Syria population before the war, are grossly underrepresented; Christians make up less than one per cent of the Syrian nationals resettled in UK to date.